As the tributes roll in for the late Bobby Curtola, one of Canada’s first pop idols, spare a thought for the two brothers from Thunder Bay, Ontario who were behind his success.
Basil and Dyer Hurdon discovered Bobby at a time when he was going to school, working at his father’s gas station and playing high school dances with his group Bobby and the Bobcats. Basil’s son actually went to the same high school as Bobby and told his dad about him. The Hurdons managed Bobby, wrote all his songs, with the exception of the 1965 remake of Floyd Robinson’s “Makin’ Love,” and owned the Tartan label for which he recorded.
The Hurdons wrote Bobby’s first hit “Hand In Hand With You” and his career was off and running. Reportedly, with the success of that song, the Hurdons tore up his contract and made him a partner in the record, publishing and touring companies.
The Port Arthur News-Chronicle at the time – Bobby was 16 – noted that the Hurdons “… strategically and painstakingly mapped out the song choices and public appearances of their main star. For a while, they steered Bobby away from the night-club circuit, wanting to perfectly time his entrance into these venues.
“The Hurdons were thorough in their marketing of Bobby as the sweet, sincere, ideal ‘60s beau. Bobby’s popularity and the fan craze that surrounded him came about due to strategizing on the part of his management team. It was Basil and Dyer Hurdon who got the first chapter of the Bobby Curtola fan club off the ground.”
Vancouver radio DJ Red Robinson can take a great deal of credit for the success of Bobby’s biggest single “Fortune Teller.” Having recognized its potential, he sent it to a number of radio stations in the U.S. It sold more than two million copies and launched Bobby’s brief international career. It was one of two hits for him in the U.S. peaking at #41 on the Billboard chart. “Aladdin,” released the same year, in 1962, peaked at #92.